Monday, December 3, 2018

December Update: Epicness

November was an epic month for me.

I finished the first-pass editing treatment of book three, to get a lay of the land. A few scenes need major revision and I need to write one more scene, but overall, the edits aren't as bad as I feared. Well, to get ready for beta, anyway. They'll give me a whole other set of things to fix, I'm sure.

I finished that on top of participating in NaNo. I counted my book three outlining words toward my NaNo goal, as well as some brainstorming and a short story, but that allowed me to hit 50k. I truly did not think I would be able to, but I did. And I ended up with about 40k on a new novel.

A short story I sold to a magazine went live on November 9. I subscribed to the magazine when they accepted me, and it was surreal to see my name in the subject line of their newsletter! They're a great magazine. I will definitely submit to them again. Also submitted two short stories, although one has already gotten me a rejection.

Still waiting to hear back from DAW.

I've written a few Cafe stories the last few months. Working on one for December. It's interesting how writing always turns into me working through my life stuff. The story I want to write for December turns out to be an allegory for my recent crisis of faith. My NaNo was working through grief of Kevin's passing. All of MystWatch was me working through grief over losing Mom. I asked my friends if I could ever just write something for fun, but apparently that's not how being a writer works. Oh well. What was it Greta said on that last day of NaNo? Things don't have to be real to be true. They say write what you know, and I know feelings. That's mostly what I write about.

Anyway. I'm still trying to figure out my December plans. The last couple of days I've done nothing, and it's been glorious. Although I'm deep in the post-NaNo blues where I feel like something is missing in my life, so I'd like to get back into writing again soon. I'd originally thought I might spend two weeks on Druid Wars so I could keep my promise to my brother and sister and give them something to read for Christmas. But I still don't know if I'm up for diving back into that world. I might poke at it a bit and see, but if it doesn't captivate me, then I'll push it back to next year as I'd planned last month, as I was sketching out my project timeline for next year.

I also thought about spending two weeks on SP, since December is always for "wrapping up" projects, and that is the other big unfinished one. I'm skeptical that will happen, because as I learned last year, getting anything done in December is a crapshoot. I think my one big goal is to be sure to get my Cafe story written. And if SP and Druid Wars don't catch my attention, I may poke at my NaNo novel. I also need to beta read for Amanda. I do have two weeks off at the end of the month, although there will be lots of travel during that time, so I hate to expect too much from myself. We'll see.

Anyway. I think that's it for this month, and this year! I will plan on doing the year recap and upcoming year goals in the January post. Although I did want to note real quick that I am up to almost 200k words written this year, thanks to my push for NaNo. And, stunningly, 91,500 words of that were on book three alone. That feels pretty awesome.

Anyway. Happy holidays! See you next year!

Monday, November 5, 2018

November Update: Grief and NaNo

I finally took my break after finishing writing book three. And of course by "break" I mean I didn't get my 15k words written.

I did stay busy, though.

I beta read a book for Ashley. I finished up edits for Kevin's book. I did a lot of brainstorming for my National Novel Writing Month story. And, I actually started edits on book three.

It's a very perfunctory edit. I'm tweaking minor things, but mostly I'm writing chapter outlines and adding editing notes for when I have the time and energy to dive deeply into it. Which, considering I can't stop thinking about it, will probably happen sooner rather than later. I'm really excited about it, still. I've figured out a few things I wasn't happy with. I've only made it about two-thirds of the way through at this point, but I will probably still try to juggle it with NaNo.

I've decided to follow my creative energies and have ultimately put off editing Druid Wars for sometime next year.

But, my creative energies come and go unexpectedly lately. My dear friend and colleague Kevin died a week ago. And the aftershocks of that keep hitting me. Mostly I'm devastated that I took so long to edit his book. He never got to finish it. Maybe if I'd turned it around in the two weeks I normally did, he would have.

Despite everyone assuring me to the contrary, I still can't help but have a lot of guilt about that.

And guilt is not great for writing.

Except when it is.

My NaNo project so far has been a lot of me dealing with my grief. Which, if you'll remember, was what the whole MystWatch trilogy was. And I was finally at a point in my journey, losing Mom, where I'd developed a healthy grieving process and moved on, in a way.

And now I'm starting all over.

But I think it'll go better this time. I'm balancing writing it with editing book three, so I have Diana telling me how to grieve properly. It's almost like she's speaking to my new MC through me. We're both going to be okay. It's just kinda funny to me that Diana of all characters is the one helping us through it.

Anyway. Yeah. It's NaNo. I'm writing and participating in events and active on the discussion board. But. I'm behind. Sorta. If I only count the words written toward my new novel, anyway. If I count work I've done on book three, I'm not. What I've realized is my relationship with NaNo has changed. I'm taking full advantage of the energy and other people writing and the events and all that. But at some point, maybe on day two or three, I realized I'm not actually expecting or even really aiming to hit 50k.

I have hit a point in my writing process where I write around 15k every month. I've already written 145k words this year. Back when I used to do the full NaNo experience, that 50k was about the only words I wrote a year. In the fourteen years I've been doing NaNo, I've developed a writing practice. And that's in large part thanks to NaNo, which is why I will always participate and always donate and always support people who want to throw their whole selves into it.

But the likelihood of me ever being a "winner" again is slim. I only need 25k this month to keep my monthly average at 15k for the year. More if I don't write in December, but I have no idea what I'll be up for in December yet, so I'm not making any plans. December is always my planned break month, so typically anything I get done in December is bonus.

So yeah. That's where I'm at this November. I hope I can get around 20k written on this new novel. Maybe more. More would be great. But I also want to get through my first editing pass of book three, and I need to write a Cafe story. That's enough stuff that even if I wrote 50k words this month, they won't all be on this new project.

And I've decided that's okay. NaNo is still a tool that I use. But I have learned, especially over this last year, that I need to follow where my inspiration is right now. I have the freedom to do that. Someday I will get published and have to force myself to work on X project by X deadline. But right now, I can work on what I am most passionate about.

And that varies throughout the month. I'm happier when I have more than one project to juggle each month. Also, writing 15k new words a month, whether in brainstorming, outlining, or actual stories, is extremely do-able for me. It's high enough that I have to push myself through the I-dun-wanna's but also low enough that if I have just a really crummy month, my really good months make up for it. It's also low enough that I can fit in editing and beta reading.

Some of this info would be better suited for the end-of-the-year post, but I wanted to bring it up now, so I don't forget.

That's about all I've got right now, though. Which is more than enough, honestly. I'm mostly just heartbroken about my loss of a friend. The world is worse off without him in it. He was truly one of the good ones.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

October Update: No Rest for the Wicked

Despite thinking I'd take a break last month, I actually did quite a bit of stuff. Lots of pictures were taken with my fancy new camera, of course, but I also managed to find time to do some writing project stuff.

I finally closed out my query for Tirgearr Publishing after waiting for 120+ days of no response. That was two weeks ago, so I think it's safe to say I'm not going to hear back from them.

Then, a couple days later, I took the next step. The last step, actually.

I submitted the book the DAW. I'd waffled back and forth on that, knowing in a few months all I'll probably get from them is a form rejection. But I decided I didn't care. This was a bucket list checkbox. I put together my query and sent my submissions packet their way.

And, strangely, the email I got thanking me for submitting was all I wanted from them. It gave me the fulfillment I needed. I worked hard to get to this point. Everything that first book went through. The writing, the beta readers, the editing, the second round of beta readers, more editing, struggling to write books two and three, more editing, and finally the submission process. I didn't jump in line to get here. I did each step as I laid out in my submission plan, and this submission to DAW was the final step.

It is the end of a journey. I have made it to the top of this mountain. Now, of course, I need to go scale that mountain over there, but I'm going to enjoy the view from this one for a minute.

The next big adventure, now that book three is written, is to start the self-publishing process. But I have to wait three months, at least, during DAW's exclusivity period. I mean, I will probably wait until I hear back from them, as long as its not more than 120 days (because apparently that's my limit for pretty much everywhere), but I already know who I'm going to for covers, and I'll probably get a quote from an editor Rachel recommended. So I'm ready to start the process, when the time comes.

That's the biggest news for the month. The rest of the news isn't all that exciting.

I participated in the 24-hour short story contest. The story I wrote for it isn't very good, but I powered through my doubt and disgust, finished it, edited it, and submitted it. I'm even looking forward to when they announce winners, because I think Amanda and Dianne both have good chances of winning something, if only honorable mention. And it helped me come up with a character and premise I really like that I will probably use to write a longer short story. Or maybe a novel. Hard to say at this point.

I also wrote a Cafe story for October. It's also not the best story I've ever written, but it's mainstream fiction without any fantastical elements, which I am pretty impressed with myself about, since the prompt lent itself to magic. And it had a bully in it, and it was bully awareness month or whatever, so that was timely.

I didn't have much luck with SP, but I did finally find the plot and the steps in the treasure hunt for the current adventure. And found a way to make sure more of the regular characters are in it. The first adventure in the second season is a huge deviation from the rest, but it also meant that one of the main characters only got a few lines at the end. It should be fun next time I sit down with it.

I also started a copy edit for Kevin, brainstormed for NaNo, and toyed with putting together a query for SP. I'm considering maybe floating it by Carina Press. I may change my mind, but I wrote up a very rough draft of a submissions packet. I'll make a decision on that next year.

Overall, I got my 15k words written. Most of those were within the first three days of the month finishing up book three, but in general, I did better in September than I thought I would once I wrote "the end."

This month, I plan to focus on Druid Wars and NaNo prep. I promised my siblings I'd have Ghosts of the Grove ready for them for Christmas, so no more putting off those edits. I've also got to finish up Kevin's edits and beta read for Ashes. I don't anticipate having any time leftover after all that, but if I do, maybe I'll throw a few more words at SP 2.2 I imagine it will be a low word month and a high editing hour month. Which will be fine. If I do manage to write 50k next month, that'll make up for all the months I didn't make it to 15k.